British Columbia Safety Authority

British Columbia Safety Authority

July 19, 2012 19:13 ET

BC Safety Authority: Mudslide and Flood Safety Information for the Columbia Valley Area

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - July 19, 2012) - Recent mudslides in the Columbia Valley area may have compromised gas and electrical systems and created safety risks. Power and gas have been disconnected to some buildings as a precaution against hazards. Electrical and gas equipment and infrastructure which has been exposed to mudslide damage or flooding can be dangerous if re-energized or re-connected, and used without being properly inspected by a licensed contractor.

The BC Safety Authority has been working in conjunction with local emergency management teams, to assess properties and assist with technical safety matters. The BC Safety Authority encourages residents and property owners to do the following:

  • If your property has been subject to mudslide damage or flooding, and has had the power or gas supply disconnected, retain the services of a licensed contractor to verify that electrical and/or gas equipment, systems, and installations are safe to re-energize. (BC Hydro will reconnect free of charge when contacted by a licensed contractor.)
  • If repairs are required to restore power or gas supply, the repairs need to be performed by a licensed contractor under an installation permit.
  • If your property was subjected to environmental damage, did not have the electrical or gas supply shut off, and no longer has debris or standing water inside the dwelling, it is recommended that a licensed contractor be retained to check that the re-energized system will not cause future unsafe conditions or risks.

If mudslides or flooding are expected and time allows, do the following:

  • Have a licensed gas contractor remove gas equipment and systems.
  • Have a licensed gas contractor cap the gas pipe leading to appliances.
  • Relocate or remove electrical appliances and have a licensed contractor isolate electrical circuits
  • Secure propane tanks to a stable structure to keep them from floating away.
  • Shut off the main gas and electrical supplies.

If there is no advance warning of an environmental change, or a licensed contractor is unavailable:

  • Shut off the main gas and electrical supplies.
  • Ensure that all valves and power knobs on all appliances and systems are turned off.
  • Shut off the water leading to and from hot water tanks.
  • Secure propane tanks to a stable structure.

Extreme precautions must be taken when returning to a mudslide or flood-damaged area.

Gas Safety:

  • Natural and propane gas smell like rotten eggs. If you smell natural or propane gas, don't smoke, light matches, operate electrical switches, use either cell phones or telephones, or create any other source of ignition. Leave the area immediately. Turn your gas off at the propane container, or the natural gas meter, if safe to do so and you know how. Call the area fire department emergency number or 911 from a safe location.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odorless toxic gas. CO may be a concern if your gas appliances or venting systems have been compromised. Have everyone leave building immediately and seek medical attention if any individual shows physical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, impaired judgment, lack of physical coordination. To prevent CO poisoning, ensure your home has well-maintained gas appliances and properly install a CO alarm.
  • Do not reactivate any gas system which has been damaged or submerged by floodwaters - call a licensed gas contractor to inspect the system for safety.

Electrical safety:

  • If the main electrical power supply is still turned on, shut it off. Do not step on a wet area if you must touch the main electrical panel.
  • Do not plug in or turn on any flood-damaged electrical appliance or system. Call a licensed electrical contractor to do inspections first.

The British Columbia Safety Authority promotes the safe installation and use of technical equipment. We are a not-for-profit organization. As the Province's delegated authority, we administer safety standards, enforce compliance, issue permits and licenses, educate, and conduct assessments and onsite inspections - particularly in high-risk situations. We continuously advance the standard of safe practices in BC.

Please read the BC Safety Authority's Emergency Post Flood Protocol for Re-Energizing Electrical and Gas, available at: http://safetyauthority.ca/node/1025 for more information about what steps to take after a mudslide to ensure technical safety.

For more information about gas and electrical safety, visit the BCSA web site at: http://www.safetyauthority.ca/safety-information/homeowners or contact your local BCSA office.

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